North West London
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW Review of the Year
This was challenged by teachers’ unions and funding campaigners, who pointed to the evidence of the Institute for Fiscal Studies, which said that over the five years between 2015 and 2020, increases in costs would outstrip rises in school incomes, meaning that schools would see reduced budgets in real terms. There were also protests about how budgets were being divided. Funding campaigners, such as those in West Sussex, remained unconvinced that the new funding formula had done enough to rectify the regional differences. They argued that schools in London were still disproportionately better supported, compared with those facing similar levels of deprivation in other parts of the country. But after Ms Greening’s departure, and the arrival of Damian Hinds, the response from the Department for Education seemed to have changed in tone. There was greater empathy for the financial pressures facing schools, and there was public recognition that this was one of the biggest concerns for school leaders. Mr Hinds also publicly acknowledged that much more was expected of schools than a generation ago. They were expected to look after young people’s emotional well-being, not just to ensure that pupils achieved in their exams.
Schools warn of more cuts to come as budget pressures bite
But if school leaders welcomed Mr Hinds’ acceptance that there was a problem over funding, they might have been less enthusiastic about the absence of any signal that he was going to deliver short-term bailouts. The indications now were that any changes to core levels of funding would be pushed towards the next round of long-term public spending plans from 2020, with a review of departmental budgets expected next year. Significant increases in funding before then seemed to have been ruled out. The arguments over school funding, which were there at the beginning of the school year, look like they will still be continuing when schools return in the autumn.
Labour promises a National Education Service
But there have been no substantial new government initiatives for education at the school level, leaving the opposition to try to create its own debate in something of a policy vacuum. The job of the opposition is usually to oppose, but with so much political energy being invested in
More than a year after a general election, an opposition party might have expected to have been engaged in some set-piece parliamentary battles over legislation, denouncing the plans of the government and in the process defining its own alternative vision.
10 | REVIEW OF THE YEAR
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